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Ravens rarely chip-blocked Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt

The Ravens had no concrete answers for how to contain Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt on Sunday during a 23-15 road loss.

Watt piled up eight tackles, three for losses, four quarterback hits and a sack.

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Watt repeatedly punished Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, contributing to Flacco completing just 21 of 50 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions with a 41.7 passer rating.

The Ravens rarely provided chip-blocking assistance against Watt and that was glaring when rookie offensive tackle James Hurst entered the game at right tackle when Rick Wagner hurt his foot. Harbaugh declined to give an update on injured offensive tackles Rick Wagner and Eugene Monroe, who were in walking boots Sunday and didn't finish the game. Both Wagner and Monroe underwent magnetic resonance imaging exams Monday. There's a strong chance that Hurst may have to start against the Browns, according to source.

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One reason why the Ravens didn't slide over more blockers to try to stop Watt is because of the Texans' blitz package designed by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Crennel was sending inside linebackers Brian Cushing and Akeem Dent up the middle on fire blitzes. Plus, the Ravens had trouble blocking defensive end Jared Crick on the opposite side of Watt.

"You can't chip when they have two guys up in the A gap, it makes it impossible to chip," Harbaugh said. "Your only option would be max protection, and then you have really one guy out on a route. They did a nice job with the game plan. They did a good job protecting J.J. and making sure he got single blocks. There weren't opportunies really to chip the way out. When we did have an opportunity to do it, we did. We put a tight end over him a couple of times as well. We did everything we could to protect James.

"In those situations, short of going complete max protection and having both your receivers doubled, we didn't have an opportunity because they had both 'backers up in the A gaps and that uses up a back. It's either where you slide the whole protection the other way, maybe to J.J., which singles him up, or you put a back on J.J. Watt. So, it's not just as simple as some would claim, just chip your way out, because they don't always allow you to do that. It's a chess game and they did a good job with it. Romeo Crennel is a great defensive coordinator."

awilson@baltsun.com

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